Mumbai: Khadse gave directions to acquire Pune land: ED tells special court

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a special court on Monday that an internal note of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation’s (MIDC) CEO indicated that former revenue minister Eknath Khadse held a meeting in his office on April 12, 2016, regarding the Pune land deal. His son-in-law, Girish Chaudhari, has been arrested in connection with the case. Khadse had given directions on its acquisition, though he did not hold charge over MIDC.

When Chaudhari’s was produced before the court for custody earlier, it had noted that the probe papers showed that the meeting was held by Khadse for acquisition of the land and that Khadse had given directions to immediately start the process for its acquisition as there was ‘injustice to the owner of the land’. After 15 days, the land deal had taken place for only Rs 3.75 crore and was purchased by Chaudhari and Khadse’s wife Mandakini, while the market price of the land, as per government records, was Rs 31 crore.

The ED said that Khadse, in his statement, had said it was a regular meeting and as an MLA and minister holding 12 ministries then, he had guided a person who had grievance and informed the concerned department or ministry.

Seeking further custody of Chaudhari for nine days, the agency told the court that it recorded the statement of an ex-director of Benchmark Buildcon, Arvind Udeshi. Chaudhari claims a loan of Rs 2 crore to buy the Pune land was provided by this company. Udeshi said that it was just a paper company and he received Rs 25,000 monthly for signing on the balance sheets. The agency said he further stated that from the same address, two other companies also operated. Earlier, the ED had told the court that Buildcon had received funds from five other companies and had immediately transferred these funds to Chaudhari.

It also pointed out that Chaudhari, in his statement, said that he had dealt with Om Prakash, chief director of Benchmark Buildcon. The ED pointed out that Udeshi did not mention any such person and that as per the registrar of companies, there is no such person holding the designation. It also said that Chaudhari was not co-operating and had become evasive on specific queries. Its probe revealed that the power of attorney holders, who received the money from Chaudhari and on whose behalf the stamp duty was paid, were not connected with the land. It said, it would be analyzing Chaudhari’s bank accounts to find any foreign debit or credit and to probe the source of funds.

Meanwhile, Chaudhari’s lawyer Mohan Tekavde opposed further custody arguing that all required documents are with government departments and there is no question of tampering. The court extended his custody till 15 July.

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